Every year, the Consumerist parodies the NCAA men’s basketball tournament with a bracket of its own designed to choose the worst company in America. Video game giant EA has now won two years in a row.
EA is a video game company that makes games people mostly like but which often have a glaring flaw or two. They’re famous for attempting to nickel-and-dime their customers with various forms of DLC. Many gamers consider the company a bit tone deaf to what its audience actually wants. In the grand scheme of things, none of those problems is really that bad.
EA didn’t dump a metric shit ton of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and then get pissy about having to clean it up. They aren’t involved in shady military contracting. They don’t buy off senators to hide protections for their business model in otherwise unrelated legislation. As far as I know, they haven’t caused any real estate crashes by issuing or betting against unsavory mortgages. They haven’t laid off all of their left-handed employees, caused the extinction of any endangered species, or dispatched specially trained agents to poop in everyone’s cereal. They sell games that typically require some sort of patch. They aren’t very good at picking out servers. They want to sell you pretend guns for your pretend futuristic warrior. They think you should shell out $59.99 for a new copy of Madden every year even though the game typically doesn’t change enough to warrant it. They sell a luxury item, and they sell it in a way that isn’t really hurting anybody.
All I’m asking for is a little perspective here. I realize that faux tournaments like the Consumerist’s are mostly just tongue-in-cheek fun that will never change anything the winner is doing, but the title of “Worst Company in America” just might make a few consumers think twice about doing business with its owner. What’s more important: that someone pause when considering whether to buy a video game, or that people look a little deeper when investing or choosing to vote for a candidate with specific corporate backing?
By no means am I defending the company or its business practices. EA’s got a lot of work to do if it wants to clean up its image and make me trust them again. If you want to claim that EA is the worst video game company going these days, well, you’ve got a valid argument. Worst company in America? Not even close.